Honey hunting in Nepal is a very adventurous and risky task, but it is still among Gurung and Magar communities as means of traditional livelihood. Men climb high cliffs to harvest honey that intrigues many foreigners. It is the most challenging and unique activity in Nepal, which is still in practice.
Honey harvesting from wild bees from mountain cliffs is the most primitive human activity. It was widely done from hunting and gathering time. But, honey hunting in Nepal is one of the oldest cultures still practiced in the Kaski, Dhading and Gorkha districts of rural areas.
Want to know more about wild honey hunting in Nepal? Then we have interesting facts about honey hunting that will fascinate you.
Some interesting facts about wild honey hunting in Nepal
1. Wild honey obtained in Nepal is famous worldwide as “mad honey.”
In Nepal, there are five honey bee species. Among them, wild cliff bees or giant Himalayan bees (Apis Laboriosa ) make their comb in open spaces like mountain cliffs. It is the largest bee species and forms giant combs. Therefore, people get up to 40 kg of honey from a single comb. Besides rock, these bees also make comb in large tree trunks.
Honey obtained from Apis Laboriosa bees has psychedelic effects; therefore, it is renowned worldwide as ‘mad honey. It gives you a pleasant effect when consumed in small doses. Therefore, honey hunting in Nepal is considered a treasure by hunters.
2.Wild honey hunting is fascinating process
Mainly Gurung and Magar communities of a rural community of mountainous regions perform wild honey hunting in Nepal. Before harvesting honey, local people organize a special ceremony to offer God sheep, flowers, and grains. They perform such rituals believing that God will protect them from any attack and mishappening from honeybees.
Every year they climb mountain cliffs to harvest wild honey without any modern tool or protective wear. Therefore only fit and who have knowledge and technique to climb cliffs are chosen for honey hunting. They climb stiff rocks and mountains using ropes and ladders made of bamboo.
Many hunters collect honey in a team. They start climbing the rock with the help of rope. But, before climbing, they make fire by burning leaves or branches at the bottom because smoke calms furious bees. Then, the lead hunter harvests honey from beehives in a bucket, and then he passes down the bucket to the next hunter. They make sure to avoid any noise and fully concentrate on harvesting. It may sound fascinating, but each year many hunters lose their lives while collecting honey.
Honey collection in a bucket- honey hunting in Nepal
3. Famous places in Nepal for wild honey hunting
Normally honey hunting is practiced in some mountainous rural communities. But, Ghalegaun (Lamjung), Myagdi and Ghan Pokhara are some major places. People in these areas are collecting honey and passing their skills to generation after generation. Locals from these areas are making their livelihood by taking hunting as their profession.
4. Which is the right season for honey harvest in Nepal?
Honey hunting in Nepal
Honey hunting is indeed a spectacular activity. But, due to difficult hilly topography only performed in specific seasons of the year. The Rainy and winter seasons are the critical periods for bees. Thus, bees consume stored honey for their survival. Also, weather and geography make it difficult to harvest in this season.
So, the perfect time for honey hunting in Nepal is during late spring (March-April) and late autumn (September-November).
5. Honey hunting as means of tourism
Traditional wild honey hunting practices have raised interest among foreigners. And, many people visit Nepal to know the ancient profession and Gurung culture. Moreover, many visits to taste organic ‘mad honey.
6. Is mad honey poisonous?
Giant cliff bees collect nectar from rhododendron flower, which has some hallucinogenic and intoxicating properties. Therefore, honey collected during spring is called “mad honey.” It has several medicinal properties. Honey has antiseptic properties; therefore, it can treat skin wounds. Similarly, it helps in relieving cough, constipation, help in weight loss and many more.
But, wild honey, if taken in large quantities, can act as a poison. Consumption of more than three spoons of man honey may lead to impairing vision, diarrhea, vomiting, and defecation and, in severe cases, lead to death.
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